Same-store retail sales for March rose a modest 2.9 % over the same period last year, according to data compiled by TeleCheck Services, Inc., a Houston-based check acceptance company.
TeleCheck’s figures show an increase in retail spending despite rolling blackouts in California, severe weather in the Northeast and generally slow economic conditions nationwide. The Southeast region led the nation, followed by the Southwest, the West and the Midwest (tied), the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.
”The increase in sales in the retail sector is encouraging considering the volatile state of the national economy over the last several months,” said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck’s Senior Economic Adviser. ”Also, Easter falls two weeks earlier this year than last and consumers may already be purchasing gifts in response to retailers’ aggressive spring promotions. The earlier holiday, coupled with an extra weekend shopping day this March as compared with 2000, contributed to the sales growth.’
Sales rose 3.5 % in the Southeast. In Louisiana, sales grew 5.2 % and in The Carolinas, sales increased 4.5 %. Sales were up 3.8 % in Florida, 2.3 % in Georgia and 2.0 % in Tennessee. Sales increased 5.4 % in New Orleans, 4.1 % in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, 3.9 % in Orlando, 3.1 % in Tampa, 2.2 % in Nashville, 2.0 % in Atlanta and 1.9 % in Memphis.
In the Southwest, sales rose 3.3 %. Texas’ sales rose 3.5 %, Oklahoma’s sales jumped 3.4 % and Missouri’s grew 2.8 %. Sales in Houston increased 3.9 %, sales in Tulsa climbed 3.8 %, sales in Dallas/Ft. Worth grew 3.7 % and sales in Austin were up 3.6 %. Kansas City’s sales increased 3.2 %, Oklahoma City’s sales rose 3.1 %, San Antonio’s sales grew 3.0 % and sales in St. Louis climbed 2.4 %.
Sales in the Midwest climbed 3.2 %, with Minnesota up 4.4 %, Michigan up 3.5 %, Wisconsin up 3.2 %, Illinois up 2.6 % and Ohio up 2.1 %. Sales grew by 4.2 % in Detroit, 3.6 % in Minneapolis/St. Paul, 3.4 % in Milwaukee, 2.7 % in Chicago and 2.2 % in Cleveland.
Sales in the West was up 3.2 %, with sales increasing 5.5 % in Hawaii, 4.0 % in Colorado, 2.7 % in both Oregon and Arizona, 2.4 % in California and 2.3 % in Washington. Sales rose 4.2 % in Denver, 3.1 % in Portland, 2.5 % in Los Angeles, 2.3 % in both the Bay Area and Phoenix, 2.2 % in San Diego and 1.9 % in Seattle.
Mid-Atlantic’s sales increased 2.0 %. Pennsylvania’s sales were up 3.7 %, Virginia’s sales increased 1.9 %, Maryland’s sales rose 1.6 % and New Jersey’s sales grew 0.9 %. Pittsburgh saw sales jump 4.4 %, Philadelphia’s sales grew 3.1 %, Baltimore’s sales grew 1.9 % and the District of Columbia saw sales rise 1.2 %.
The Northeast region’s sales grew a modest 0.5 %. Sales rose 1.2 % in New York and declined 1.3 % in Massachusetts. New York City saw sales increase by 1.4 %, while Boston’s sales decreased by 1.2 %.
TeleCheck’s Retail Index is compiled on a calendar basis and is based on the total sales volume of check-writing consumers at a broad cross-section of retailers, totaling 27,000 of TeleCheck’s 272,000 subscribing locations. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. Checks account for approximately one-third of retail spending. In 2000, TeleCheck authorized more than $163 billion in checks, representing 3.2 billion transactions.